How can we play more?
Play was a hot topic in the UK Parliament this week. MPs called for research into the condition of play provision, with one MP arguing:
“It’s now time to drive forward a renaissance in children’s play across the country so that the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor play are opened up to children from all backgrounds… Play is fundamental to children’s wellbeing. If play is restricted there are likely to be profound effects upon their physical and mental health, both now and in the future.”
MPs and economic leaders of all political persuasions are calling for more importance to be placed on play, and access to play. Earlier this year business leaders at the World Economic Forum hailed the importance of play for developing critical life and work skills.
So why don’t we have enough play in our lives? It comes down to two factors: time and space. Lack of time for children to play due to busy schedules, and lack of safe places in which to do it.
At Kozi Kidz we’re thrilled that play is hitting national and international agendas. But policy change can be slow in the corridors of power. So how can we give our children access to more play now?
It’s wonderful that children have access to so many classes, workshops and after school groups. But there is a risk that too many structured activities squeeze out time for free play.
Play, rather than directed activity, tends to be negotiated and directed by the children themselves, building important emotional skills. So if you find your children have busy leisure timetables, see if it’s possible to un-timetable some of it to make space for open-ended play.
Check out local facilities
We don’t always know what treasures we have in our local area – we get used to the same routes, parks and routines. Local council websites often have a list of play areas and parks – why not venture to a new park this Easter holidays? And for those in England, Play England is developing a map of adventure playgrounds and play associations.
Play in the street
Playing out in the street used to be the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way for children to get plenty of play opportunities in their local community. Changes to housing, more cars on the roads and concern about letting children play unsupervised has stopped this tradition in many places.
The Street Play project provides guidelines for parents and local authorities to reinstate safe opportunities for children to play with friends and neighbours.
Weave play into everyday life
Children are masters at play, given the chance. They don’t need lots of expensive kit, or fancy playgrounds. A stick can become a mast, sword, fishing rod, laser, wand, conductor’s baton… Paving stones and their cracks can be the start of a complicated spy game.
Allowing an extra 10 minutes for the walk to the shops, or to collect older siblings from school, and letting your child’s imagination loose might be all it takes to spark a mini-play adventure on the go.
We hope you have lots of lovely time for play these Easter holidays. Be prepared for those April showers with our latest range of waterproofs.